The National Park Service (NPS) recently announced that 330,882,751 recreation visits took place in 2017, very close to the record-setting 330,971,689 recreation visits in 2016. Half of national park visitation occurred in 27 parks, and visitors spent more time in parks during their 2017 visits compared to 2016.
What struck home is the fact that the 10 national parks with the most visitation all feature mountains and only two (Great Smoke Mountains National Park and Acadia National Park) are outside the U.S. Mountain West. What does this mean for groups? It means choosing destinations near national parks and integrating visits and related activities into itineraries for meetings and incentive trips should be a winning and memorable choice for attendees.
Top 10 Visitation National Parks
|Great Smoky Mountains National Park||11,388,893|
|Grand Canyon National Park||6,254,238|
|Zion National Parl||4,504,812|
|Rocky Mountain National Park||4,437,215|
|Yosemite National Park||4,336,890|
|Yellowstone National Park||4,116,524|
|Acadia National Park||3,509,271|
|Olympic National Park||3,401,996|
|Grand Teton National Park||3,317,000|
|Glacier National Park||3,305,512|
However, increased attendance at parks—1.5 billion visits in the last five years—also means aging park facilities are incurring additional wear and tear. President Trump has proposed legislation to establish a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund that would help address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog in the NPS. How can groups help? Planners can check if volunteer initiatives are available or if groups can help fund repairs and improvements at a particular park or facility. For example, Rocky Mountain Nature Association (now the Rocky Mountain Conservancy) has been producing educational publications, offering seminars, supporting research, and providing aid and philanthropic support to Rocky Mountain National Park and other public lands partners since 1931. The conservancy is one of the oldest cooperating associations working with the National Park Service.Throughout the entire National Park System (NPS), which also includes well-known monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranked third and Grand Canyon National Park ninth. Plus, Lake Mead National Recreation Area in southeastern Nevada and northwestern Arizona ranked sixth with 7,882,339 visits.
Get groups out and plugged into all the amazing beauty and history of our National Park System!